See the Big Thicket by Canoe or Kayak

The many miles of creeks, bayous, and rivers flowing through Big Thicket National Preserve make it an ideal place to explore by canoe and kayak. Numerous access points provide many different trip options for paddlers of all experience levels. Three official Texas Paddling Trails offer clearly-defined routes to explore and experience the beauty and diversity of the Big Thicket. Paddle on your own or join a free ranger-led paddle trip!

Always wear a life jacket—also known as a personal flotation device (PFD)—when paddling.


Ranger Recommendations

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    Paddle Intern CJ posing with paddle, life jacket, kayak, and other safety gear
    Paddle Intern CJ modeling essential paddling safety gear, including a life vest, dry bag, and throw rope.

    NPS Photo / Scott Sharaga

    Paddling Safety Tips

    1. Check the water level and weather before planning your trip. Hazards of high water include rapids and hidden obstructions that could cause you to capsize. Hazards of low water include dry passages and exposed limbs that can create treacherous obstacles. Prepare accordingly for the temperature. Know the signs of heat exhaustion and hypothermia.
    2. Wear a life jacket, regardless of the water level and your swimming ability. What kind of life jacket is right for me?
    3. Look at a map to plan your trip. Always leave a float plan with someone you trust in case of emergency. Include where you will start, where you will end, and your estimated time of return. Keep your map with you.
    4. Double check to make sure you have all the supplies you may need. Always bring extra water! Never drink directly from the river or creek.

    More Safety Tips for Water Vessels »


    Backcountry camping is allowed year-round on sandbars along Village Creek and the Neches River. Canoeists and kayakers planning an overnight trip can get a free camping permit from the visitor center.

    While the sandbars along the Neches River in the Neches Bottom and Jack Gore Baygall Unit are open to camping year-round, campers should use caution venturing beyond the sandbars during hunting season (October–February).

    Boat Rentals

    Rental options for kayaks and canoes are available through local outfitters as well as these nearby state parks:

    Rentals at state parks cannot be transported to other locations. Check with each park to confirm rental availability before your visit.

    Big Thicket National Preserve does not provide rentals. Canoes are available from the preserve only during ranger-led canoe trips.


    Last updated: January 6, 2024

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    Contact Info

    Mailing Address:

    6044 FM 420
    Kountze, TX 77625



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